House of Gucci
S1: I want to tell you my secret now. I see.
S2: Soylent Green is people. No, I am the. But. What’s in the box?
S3: You know, you’re blowing up. Damn you all day.
S4: Oh hi, I’m Dana Stevens Slate’s movie critic and welcome to another Slate Spoiler special podcast. This week we are spoiling the new Ridley Scott movie House of Gucci. And joining me to talk about this movie, possibly in bad Italian accents, are Rachel Syme, staff writer for The New Yorker. I Rachel Willa. Welcome to the podcast!
S5: Thank you, Dana.
S4: I don’t sound very Italian, but neither do several actors in the movie. And, of course, Heather Schwedel, staff writer at Slate.
S1: Hey, Heather. Hi, I wasn’t prepared for the accents at all. I don’t think I can do it with you guys.
S4: I was actually practicing alone before we taped because I knew I wanted to open with that shtick and it started to slip into Russian. And then I realized that that actually happens in the movie too.
S5: There’s Russian, there’s so little Dutch someone goes to. At one point it’s all over the map.
S4: I mean, I honestly wonder what we’re going to talk about besides accents, but there is a lot else to talk about in this movie, which is well over two hours long. Right? I mean, it’s verging on the two hours and 30 40 minute zone.
S5: I mean, to me, it felt like 20 minutes.
S4: All right. Actually, this is how I’m going to start, which is how I usually start. Spoiler special since this is not a review podcast, but really wandering into the weeds with this podcast. I want to start by going around and seeing what you both thought it because Rachel you and I happened to be at the same screening. We didn’t get much chance to talk about the movie after. But I think that you felt more passionate about its camp value than I did, although I also feel that can’t value in it is what I love about the movie. I also felt like this movie felt very long. I cannot say that it felt 20 minutes long to me, so I will start with you.
S5: Yeah, I mean, I was almost rhapsodic about its camp value when I left the screening. In retrospect, maybe a little too enthusiastic like I was. Maybe I just super needed a laugh last week, and it was like a rainy day that we saw the movie and I went in and I was like, in a bad mood. And then I remember it just completely lifted my spirits in such an existential way that I was like, Well, at least there’s that, you know? So I am. I mean, listen, I am of my friends who have seen this movie already. I am sort of on the in the minority who thinks it’s great and does exactly what it set out to do. A lot of people do think it’s very long and not totally sensible. But for me, I think it is a work of actual true camp. I think we throw throw that word around too much these days. I think Susan Sontag would be rolling. But I think in this case, it really functions as a camp classic in the making. I found myself repeating certain lines from it throughout the week and we can go over those later and and just smiling and thinking about how weird it was and how everyone has turned up to 11. Everyone’s in a different movie. I don’t know that Ridley Scott could point a Gucci loafer out of a lineup, but it doesn’t matter. Like, I just found the whole thing hilarious and over-the-top and sparkly. And like an italo disco of a movie.
S4: Hmm. I mean, I think for the first 20 minutes, 30 minutes, maybe even into the first hour, I was there with you. But then I think when this movie forgets itself, what it’s doing, when it starts going into being a business drama and starts to be about, you know, the incredible suspense of who’s going to buy out, who’s shares, which I’m not saying could not be made into a good movie, right? But I feel like it loses its its tone a little bit there, which I agree that the opening could not have made me happier and we’ll get there, too. Heather, what about you?
S1: I think I’m more in Dana’s camp. I was very excited for this movie. I think the trailer is one of my favorite movies of the year. But the movie itself disappointed me. I think I’m not one to complain about long movies, but it dragged on. I was trying to sneakily check my watch and I thought Gaga was good, but you know, I was prepared to have her knock my socks off and she just didn’t. I think it was more the writing and directing of the movie, though it just it wasn’t strong. I can picture the movie. I wanted this to be in my head and sort of the movie Rachel is talking about, but I I don’t think it got there.
S4: It’s ungainly. I will say that about it, and that’s not necessarily always a fault, but it’s really, really trying to pack in a lot of things. Like you say, Rachel big performances, big, you know, Grand Guignol melodrama moments and kind of diva set. And but then also it’s supposed to have this almost godfather esque kind of Italian family saga. In fact, one of the writers of the script, his name is Roberto Antivenin, has. Compare this to The Godfather, which is maybe a bit arrogant, but he essentially said he sees the path of Maurizio Gucci, the character played by Adam Driver, as being something like Michael Corleone in The Godfather, right? That he starts off being outside of the family business. Uncertain about. Disapproving of it, right, and then that greed and human nature kind of suck him in and corrupt him. That is the story that it tells, but why does it have nowhere near the emotional heft of The Godfather, right? I mean, that character, I think a big part of it, maybe, is that the Maurizio Gucci character, Adam Drivers, is very ghostlike. He’s very oddly defined. I mean, there are all these people who want him right. They want him as a business partner. They want him as a romantic partner. And other than the fact that he’s played by head of driver, I’m never quite sure why he’s a somewhat colorless character.
S5: I mean, OK, let’s the godfather is also camp. Can we just be honest about this? I knew it was. Frida is like the silliest thing, but I don’t
S1: think this movie has, and I knew it was. You afraid?
S5: It absolutely does. And it’s when Jared Leto says it’s a memory wrapped in a like the greatest, the greatest line reading that has been delivered. And I did write that quote down. I have a lot of thoughts about how this movie has, and it’s our name, sweetie. People will be saying that for the rest of time. I mean, I think that there is a lot of truth in what you two are saying, for sure. I think this movie is like, it’s hard because I was talking to a friend about it the other day and he was like, Is it good? And I was like, I don’t even think that we need to be working with those terms. What we talk about this movie? Is it good? Did it entertain me? Oh, fully. I also am a fashion reporter. I have read Sara Gay for the House of Gucci. I am interested in investing in this Gucci. Gucci family saga. So to me, all the business stuff to me, it could have been even more like, I think that we can get into it later. But I think the things that this movie alighted was actually half the book. That was fascinating to me, and I think as a movie about fashion in certain ways, it suffers. It didn’t have the eye of somebody who really loves clothes making a movie about clothes, which I always have trouble with.
S1: I totally agree.
S5: I’m sort of like, you know, if you’re going to make a movie about fashion, it either has to be incredibly over the top. Cartoonishly obsessed with items like Devil Wears Prada, where it’s like, Are those the Chanel boots? Yes, right? Fashion closet montages? Or it has to be something like Phantom Thread, where it’s like, I don’t see Paul Thomas Anderson necessarily as a fashion expert, but through the telling of that movie and the obsessiveness of the Woodcock character, he is getting you into the mind of somebody who is absolutely a perfectionist about their art and using fashion as the medium through which to tell a story about an artist. I don’t know that this movie knows what fashion is at all in terms of whether or not it’s a it’s an art form, a commodity, you know, a cultural bellwether. I think that that’s where the movie is the most confused. But in terms of just delivering like hammy par excellence performances from its its leading players, I think it delivers on that level.
S4: Yeah, I have to say that it also, maybe for the first time, makes me and makes me curious about Jared Leto’s acting and makes me want to see him do more interesting and bizarre things. I was somewhat offended by the fact that he was cast in this role with all of these prosthetics and makeup to make him look like a bald, fat, middle aged man when there are so many bald, fat middle aged actors who could have played the part. But I have to say that although he may be the most turned up to 11 turned up past 11, if all the actors, he is a total delight and I looked forward to all the scenes with his character.
S5: Well, I mean, Paolo Gucci, who’s the character that he plays. So since this is a spoiler special, he can get into the story a little bit at some point. But I think, you know, it’s the story of the Gucci family. They completely allied the first part of the Gucci family, which is how Gucci became Gucci, which is that, you know, this struggling leather goods maker Gucci Gucci comes up from poverty. And yeah, he builds this business basically off of one loafer and one bag. These are the two sort of iconic early Gucci items builds it into an international business. His sons take over the business and their sons are primed to take over the business. And that generation is the very troubled generation of which this movie follows, which is sort of like the failed sons of the good sons. One is called Maurizio and one is called Paolo. That’s Letto. Maurizio is Adam Driver, and Paolo is this sort of aroused put in a large adult male son who wants to become a fashion designer. Him in his own right and has a lot of vision for Gucci and is told by his uncle he’s aggressively mediocre and it sort of ruins his life. And as we learn, he dies in total poverty obsessed with pigeons.
S4: But I can’t say that anyone in this movie, with the exception of Patrizia Lady Gaga’s character, and I think that may just be because of her performance, which I did Heather think was exceptional. I don’t feel like anyone else has a lot of life off the screen. You can’t imagine what their character is doing outside of their scenes, and that becomes a big problem when it’s a character like Adam Driver’s Maurizio, who is arguably the co-lead in the movie.
S1: Yeah, I wanted to go back to The Godfather thing. I think of that as. A sprawling family saga, so many interesting characters, and this just had five characters and only two of them were really characters or two and a half, I don’t know. So I I just think it needed so much more to to be that I
S5: honestly, if they were going to do the Gucci saga correctly, this movie should have been five hours long because there’s so much in the book. There’s so much going on. I mean, for example, did you get any sense of Al Pacino’s character and what he was doing in New York? No. OK, so that is like such a major part of the story, which is that he goes off to run the New York branch of Gucci and the 60s, expanding it to international acclaim. Like these socialites are wearing it, Jackie O’s wearing it like he’s, you know, making it an American must have brand. Meanwhile, he keeps this mistress who we briefly see in this movie as he’s like walking her to the car right in this lavish apartment in New York City. And he’s living this sort of like Crazy New York life that’s sort of leeching money from the family, which is one of the reasons that they’re in such a financial straits would Maurizio takes over, but I feel like that part of his of Al Pacino’s character’s life isn’t really explored. Like he just keeps saying come to New York. But it’s not really clear that what he’s doing in New York is like living high on the hog and also in Maurizio and Patrizia moved to New York. He puts them up in this incredible penthouse apartment, and we get a sense of that, but it’s like it’s actually insane what they moved into. It’s like the top floor of a Fifth Avenue apartment in the 1980s, which is like about as much as you can spend in New York City.
S4: Yeah, this is sort of what I mean about not knowing what the characters were doing when they weren’t on screen, right? I mean, the writing didn’t have that, that kind of richness where you see their domestic lives or can kind of picture. So as a result, all of the jumps forward in time just felt like, oh, they put some more age makeup on them. You know, I didn’t have a sense of what experiences they were accruing during that time. But Rachel that really saying that you wish it were five hours long really speaks to one of my notes when I was watching the movie is this should have been a miniseries. This would have been perfect as a kind of eight part series on HBO or something like, well,
S5: and usually I feel the other way, like every mini series should have just been a movie. Yeah, me too. But this this is the opposite reaction where you’re like, This actually has the juice it has. Like, you know, I want to see all the way back in, like the early nineteen. What a post-war Italy when Gucci Gucci is coming up with the business all the way through this murder all the way through the modern day. I mean, I honestly think the place that it this is for the end, but where it suffers the most is the Tom Ford into the Alexander Micheli. Current Gucci story was like done in that, you know, freeze frame text on the screen like and this guy would go on to become Bill Gates, like, you know, type like ending of a movie classic like 80s freeze frame with text that last twenty five years of Gucci has been fascinating as well. We didn’t get the fascinating beginning. We didn’t get the fascinating end. We just got this sort of muddled middle. I’m coming around to your guy’s point of view on this movie, as we talked about.
S4: I mean, to tell you the truth, this conversation is making me want to see it again, albeit not in the movie theater, because it really is a long set. But I would love to see it on TV and just sort of zip to the to the juicy parts. And I think I probably will do that when it’s when it’s available streaming. We’re not going to go point by point to this very long and very plodding movie, but I want to talk about what I think of is kind of the first story beat, which is when we joined the moment when Patrizia and Maurizio are falling in love. So it’s Adam Driver and Lady Gaga racing around Milan on motor scooters, with Italian pop blaring in the background, incredible outfits worn by all. This was the part of the movie that really seduced me where I thought, You’ve got me Ridley, you know, cheesy accents, whatever. I’m fully in. I wonder if you all agreed with me that you know, this movie just starts off as as exactly what I wanted it to be, which is this outsized diva style love story.
S1: Yeah, I mean, I went into this thinking about a star is born a lot, and the beginning of a star is born when Lady Gaga’s character meets Bradley Cooper’s character. You know, the first half hour or whatever they meet and fall in love and flirt is so great, and I thought this movie was very similar to that. You get this iconic meeting in the club and, you know, maybe not as good, maybe a little more cliché ridden, but it did have that. And even even up to their wedding, I was just watching it. And I hate over using the word iconic, but I was like, Wow, like, I’m really watching a movie now. I’m watching these two people in this epic story. So I agree that the beginning was really fun.
S5: Yeah, I agree, too. I mean, I think my big theory about the guy I profiled her for the tightest magazine for the Star Is Born movie cycle, so I got to talk to her about this a little bit. The main thing is that she’s a student of fame, right? I think that, you know, more than anybody else that’s famous right now, she’s interested in being famous. What that means, what that does to a person, how you can do it. I mean, she’s a collector of memorabilia of Elvis and Madonna and Michael Jackson. She wants to have things from the most famous people on Earth. She’s a. Very interested in it, and in terms of her movie career, I think she wants to try out being every kind of famous. So in In the Star Is Born, she was in the her like Judy Barbara, I’m Ashanti’s, who acts now in this movie. She doesn’t sing. Now she is Elizabeth Taylor. Her entire press cycle is fully nineteen. Sixty five. Elizabeth Taylor like on a yacht in the on the Amalfi Coast. I’m just it’s it’s just seeping with Elizabeth Taylor, even in the movie when they first meet. He compares her to Elizabeth Taylor Maurizio. Yeah. Yes, I’m much more fun. And there’s this moment where you can see the transference happening. Like Gaga’s like, Oh yes, I actually am Elizabeth Taylor in this movie. And I think it works for me in the first half hour. She’s so embodying it. It’s so glamorous. It’s so almost like restrained, even though it’s over the top. There’s something about it that feels very old school like old fashioned movie star big movie Cleopatra Press Cycle opens at the Paris Theatre. Everything about it is feeling very old Hollywood. To me, it’s when there’s sort of an incursion of like the sense that we’re now sitting in the modern day watching Gaga try to be an old movie star that it starts to fall apart. But the suspension of disbelief is happening for me in that first. I mean, really, even the first hour, I think there’s just a real sense of old Hollywood movie magic happening.
S4: And even in the filmmaking, I think in that in that part of the movie, like the accent choices that are so silly and easy to make fun of. They make a lot of sense in the context of her being Elizabeth Taylor in some classic Hollywood movie. Because in those movies, right, if there were, I don’t know, German Nazis on the screen, they were just American guys speaking in German accents to sort of signify speaking German. And that’s the spirit that Ridley Scott kind of goes into this movie with. I think that he’s almost even though it’s shot on location, almost building a backlot location. You know, that resembles Milan in the 60s and having fun with it, and the beginning of the movie just had so much playfulness about that. Also, of course, her outfits are even more extraordinary the beginning of the movie, because she’s a regular working class, middle class girl, right? I read somewhere that Gaga wears 54 different outfits over the course of the
S5: movie, and it’s more. Maybe it’s more it’s I thought it was in the 70s.
S4: Oh my god. Yeah, it could be. I mean, she certainly never repeats any look or even any accessory a single time. But when you imagine her being this young woman who works at her father’s trucking company as a as a receptionist and she’s pulling together those looks, it’s sort of all the more incredible. I’m going to tie up our conversation for just a moment, for a word from our sponsor. Heather, what about you? Were you also grooving on the old Hollywood vibe there at the beginning?
S1: Oh yes, definitely. So the point you mentioned, she’s sort of on the make, I guess in the beginning, she’s not rich at all, but she works for her father’s trucking company or in the ground transportation business, as she says. And all the guys, they’re hooting and hollering for her, and she’s this sort of fabulous presence there. I don’t want to say that she’s a gold digger, but she sees something in Maurizio that is an opportunity to change everything. We have a little bit of time where Maurizio, I guess he was a law student in the beginning of the movie. He wasn’t super involved in the family business and for a while, he is even working for the trucking company. So you get this great moment where you get to see Adam Driver in a jumpsuit like having playing. Oh, is it sort of reminded me of the Zoolander scene at the gas station? But then I guess how they sort of get back on track with Gucci is that they meet Al Pacino’s character, the uncle. And how does he come into things? Do they reach out to him or does he reach out to them?
S5: The whole sort of getting into Gucci is the big question about Patrizia, because I mean, obviously she’s a villainess at the end of this movie. I mean, there’s no way else to describe her. She’s a cold blooded. Had her husband murdered. Sorry to spoil it, as this is a spoiler special, but in at the beginning, you know, the big question is, does she have designs all along on this money, on his fame, on his family? It’s hard because they’re both movie stars, right? So you can. It’s hard to believe that Adam Driver was ever a nerd that couldn’t get a girlfriend, though that was Maurizio kind of vibe. You know, in the actual. So when Patrizia comes along and is seducing him, he fell for it and in and in the actual story. When you’re reading the book, you’re like, Did she know like she was? Did she even like him? Was that was it all about the money? But in this, it’s like, of course, he’s Adam Driver. He’s like this tree trunk of a man who’s very handsome. And then you have gaga. He’s the most charming person, you know, you can’t take your eyes off of her, so it’s like seems inevitable they would get together. But I think it’s a lot murkier in the real story.
S4: Yeah, I think those motivations again, or script problem, it’s important for us, even if they’re ambivalent motivations and they change, it’s important for us to know why she marries him in the first place, how disappointed she is that he at one point lets his father cut him off, right? I mean, there’s a period where you think their marriage is going to proceed with them, you know, working at the ground transportation company. And then she suddenly becomes this sort of Lady Macbeth who’s whispering poisonous thoughts into his ear and he becomes this Macbeth like figure who’s, you know, being whipped up into this frenzy of greed. And that all seems like it’s archetypal borrowed from somewhere else, from some mob movie or from Macbeth. But but not not integrally emerging from these characters as they’ve been shown us.
S1: Yeah. I wish we had had some scene or something at the beginning that showed us just her interiority in some way, so we had more of an impression of what she wanted for her life before all this.
S4: I mean, I actually think this is part of why Gaga impressed me so much in this movie is that I think she delivered an exceptionally good performance in a not exceptionally good movie. And that made me think also of Spencer, the recent Diana biopic with Kristen Stewart, who I think is exceptional in that movie. But the movie surrounding her is not quite worthy of her performance. This is different because, of course, that’s a very spare movie that’s made to be a showcase for this one jewel like performance, whereas this is, of course, a sprawling epic with lots of different things going on. But I had this sense. It was almost like Gaga proved her chops to me because, unlike a star is born, she was not really in a vehicle that totally made sense for her or was totally worthy of her. And yet she excelled. Adam Driver, on the other hand, who I usually love in everything, no matter what he does, was severely miscast in this movie, I think. I mean, his accent work was in and out as well. But I mean, beyond that, he just as you say, Rachel did not make sense in this movie, and his star persona didn’t fit into that character the way that Gaga’s did into hers.
S5: Yeah, I mean, he had to be a little bit of a nebbish in the beginning, and it wasn’t. I mean, he just when you put a giant pair of glasses on Adam Driver and called him a nerd, it doesn’t always work. I mean, I think it’s interesting when you say that she’s does a very good performance in a not so, very good movie. To me, that’s what makes it destined to be a classic because to me, that has all the makings of all of the classics that people love. Like, if it was a better movie, like part of me, I’m very torn because part of me is like, if this movie was like made by Fellini or something in like two minutes she tore. It was like even someone like Paolo Sorrentino took on this material who, like, understood Italy. It wasn’t like a bunch of Americans who were like, Let’s do an accent. I like, would it have been better? Absolutely. It might have been amazing. Might have been, you know, but part of me is like, this is an entire like experiment to see what happens when you throw Gorgui at material that’s like not so good, and she elevates it so extremely that you’re kind of like, it’s galactic what you need to do. And I think that that to me, is what makes this movie a classic, because the. It is so extreme, and I love extreme effort. So for me, I was just like impressed the entire time. I was like, she going to do it, she’s going to land that. She did
S4: it. Yeah, in those late scenes, it was almost like a Visconti movie. You know, she really made me think of like one of those Italian melodrama directors of the 60s, like a movie like Senso. You know where there’s just these, these women that are basically doing opera, you know, they’re not singing, which Gaga, of course, could have done, but they’re performing as if performing in an opera. And that really happens toward the end when she starts plotting with the Salma Hayek character to murder her husband. But we’ll get there. So in this middle section of the movie, Maurizio is no longer washing cars in Milan. He’s now gone to New York to be the head of Gucci there at the invitation of Aldo, his uncle, the Al Pacino character. And this is the part of the movie where the McBeath relationship starts to emerge more, and the Lady Gaga character starts to see herself. Not just, as you know, the supportive wife of the scion of a fashion family, but something of a fashion executive and visionary herself. And that all starts at a moment when she’s walking. It must be on Canal Street, where all the knockoffs are in spots, a lot of Gucci knockoff bags and proceeds to go.
S1: Or someone that works for her has one.
S4: Oh, that’s right. That’s right. That’s right. It’s that her cleaning woman has a knockoff Gucci bag. So she goes in search of the point of sale for all of these knockoff Gucci products and then comes back to her husband with this vision of, you know, how they’re going to change the company.
S1: Yeah, she really disapproves. She thinks that this it is not a good strategy for the Gucci brand, that there are all these knockoffs. And Aldo seems sort of fine
S4: like it points to a division in the family, right? The Jeremy Irons character would not have been fine with it because he seems more tied to the tradition of the family.
S5: Well, this is where it becomes a very confused movie about fashion because it’s actually what she’s dealing with in the 80s was a very interesting turning point for luxury fashion writ large, but they don’t really go to that in the movie, which is that there’s all these sort of families that have these businesses that are quote unquote luxury, but we don’t really have this brand thing going on yet and where it’s like, you must have a Birkin bag, you must have Chanel this that kind of got invented through this scarcity theory and returning to the idea of luxury later, you know, starting in the 80s and 90s and Gucci was a big part of that because Aldo like license the image and or did not have control over it into to this point, the whole idea that animates the last part of the movie, which is this idea of like going down to go back up again that we we can get into. But that’s like Maurizio business strategy is animated by this idea of bringing Gucci back into the idea of a rarefied brand. The thing about Gucci where it is now, is you can trace it back to the treaty as insistence that knockoffs were cheesy, right? Because now we have it where Gucci is such a rarefied brand and like to have a piece of Gucci, just even a Gucci belt. I guess that’s like to you now to have it just is this iconic and and coveted thing that was kind of going away. So the whole middle section is about Patrizia in her in kind of a visionary way, wrangling back Gucci and convincing Maurizio that the business needs to be run as a luxury business, not as a, you know, branding opportunity to slap your logo on everything mugs and paperweights and pens and everything. And that that is a kind of a visionary idea, and it really did come from her and Maurizio and changed that brand and also other brands forever. So I think it gets muddled in the middle because you kind of want to feel the impact of that decision a little bit more.
S4: Yeah, I mean, Rachel, that was so much smarter and clearer about fashion and fashion history than anything in this movie is like you should have been advising on this movie because all of that stuff is fascinating. And when I say that the business part started to to bother me at the end, it’s not because business per se is boring. It’s because this movie presented. All of that is just simply power grabs, right? And wranglings over shares and things like that. And there wasn’t really any sense of that. There were different philosophies for what the company should be, that they were changing ideas of what fashion and luxury should be in the larger culture at the time. All that would have made it so much richer and so much more more fun toward the end.
S1: Well, and also, I think another problem is the Adam Driver character, you know, he’s so even keeled and doesn’t seem that interested in the business and then at some point becomes very shrewd. And the personality change didn’t make sense for me, and that also made it hard to follow.
S5: It’s explained away by a single line at the end where he says his personality has changed, which is my other favorite line that I repeat where she goes, you know, I didn’t know I married a monster and he goes, No, you’re married. A Gucci, right? And this idea that like becoming a Gucci is this like shrewd business mind who will do anything shark like moving through the water to save your business? That wasn’t always Mauritius vibe, but it becomes his vibe in the last third of the movie, for sure.
S4: All right. Well, that’s the third we’re going to get to after one more break from our sponsor. I can’t wait to talk about the ending. All right, so now we get to, I guess, the last third or so of this movie, which is where there’s mad plot swirling everywhere new characters are introduced who become really important, even though we get very little screen time with them and all of the business chicanery kicks in that we’ve been talking about all this time the the power grabs at the head of the Gucci family. How does the downward slide begin for Patrizia and Maurizio?
S1: So Maurizio father is starting to get sick, and when he dies, there’s the matter of the will and there is some sort of unsigned part and that’s where they they’re going to have to pay all these taxes. It’s implied that they get around that and do something nefarious, like maybe forged the signature so they don’t have to pay the inheritance tax. And that’s one of the beginnings of their slide into like being willing to kind of do whatever. And they also want to form some sort of alliance with Paolo because they realize that they need him if they want to have any chance to overtake Aldo and his vision for the business. So that’s where we get this great scene, where Patrizia goes to Paolo to try to sort of cultivate him, and we learn that he is actually a designer.
S4: This is where I think we should have a little audio clip, which we don’t always do on spoiler specials. But here, though, so you can hear the accents we’ve been talking about and because I think this is kind of the pinnacle of the movie. I mean, even if you are someone who didn’t experience the movie mainly as an experience of pleasurable camp, I think this scene would be an exception. So let’s listen to a little clip of Lady Gaga and Jared Leto as Patrizia and Paolo Gucci.
S2: You have a gift, I’m telling you. Oh, stop, stop. You’re going to make people laugh and make me cry. Nobody has ever said that to me. Nobody. Why don’t you have your own line? These are just some mock ups. I can’t afford to get serious with your gift and your talent and your vision. No kidding. Gucci needs no blood. Goodbye. 1930s Hello, huh? Well, you took the words right out to my gods. Powerful. She got me. Dana had out of the box.
S4: So, OK, we were not able to even watch that clip on our Zoom recording without giggling all over again. I think you really see the pleasure in that scene that the two of them take from acting together. There’s something almost musical about the way Jared Leto delivers his lines, right? He’s not only doing the accent, but he sort of has the singing singsong cadence when he speaks. That’s great. Unfortunately, that clip doesn’t include the greatest line in that scene and possibly in the movie. Which Rachel do you want to give it to us in your Italian accent?
S5: I mean, I said it earlier, but I’ll say it again, which is when Gaga touches one of his outfits and asks him about it, he goes, It’s a memory wrapped in. I have it down to science now, that’s his pronunciation of like her.
S4: That’s the musical delivery, it’s so
S5: good, it’s it’s so, it’s so hilarious, I just can’t get over it. And her whole like, Hello me. I mean, they are doing the most.
S4: Can you talk about the clothes in that scene? Rachel because the whole idea that scene, of course, is that his fashion design ideas are disastrous, but they have to mount a show for him to to throw him a bone.
S5: Yeah. I mean, what’s interesting about Hallowes clothes is that they are disastrous in the eyes of Rodolfo, his uncle, who for a long time presides over the House of Gucci aesthetic vision with an iron fist, an iron fist. And you know, it’s funny because he then he brings his uncle this concept art of his fashions, and he’s there a lot of big bows, and he says, I want brown and pastels in the same collection. His uncle says tacky, mediocre couldn’t happen. That’s exactly what Gucci is now. Brown, some pastels and the same clutch and giant bows. Alessandra Micheli has brought Pablo’s vision to Gucci, which I think is just honestly chef’s kiss born of our tuna, but it just took a long time. But yes, I mean, we are to believe that his work is very classy and tacky and gauche and gaudy. In all the words you can use to say you’re not up to the standard of a Gucci, which is interesting because we then get Tom Ford, and I think we should move into this last part of the movie. But we get we get this new designer for Gucci in the nineties that in certain ways brings in a totally different aesthetic than Jeremy Irons would have ever wanted for the brand. So, you know, Paolo in certain ways is this tragic figure, and I think it could have been heightened even more how much of a tragedy and he was because his vision for Gucci was just out of step with his family and out of time. But it wasn’t necessarily wrong. But I think there’s a lot going on there poetically on the fashion level, but again, not explored in this movie at all. Well, as long
S4: as we’re talking about the fashion, let’s let’s save the dissolution of the central relationship for our very last cherry on top and just talk about the Tom Ford part. Because that’s part of what I meant about characters who entered late into the movie and could have been developed could have been important and could have made the business story exciting. But instead, it was almost just a classic biopic thing like I am Tom Ford. He might as well have been wearing a name label that said, Hello, I am Tom Ford.
S1: Yeah, it just gets very confusing what’s happening with the company at some point. Maurizio is at a fashion show and is sort of embarrassed or ashamed that he’s talking to a designer who sort of intimates to him, you know, like Gucci could never do what we’re doing. Gucci is not in the fashion conversation, so he he gets it in his head that Gucci needs to move into a new era. And Tom Ford eventually is brought in to to be that absolutely.
S5: Heather. I think that Tom Ford’s entrance into this movie is sort of played as this fun Easter egg for people who know about fashion. Because, of course, Tom Ford went on to become Tom Ford, but it’s never totally explored why it was such a radical decision for Gucci to bring in this American young American untested, really Texan designer to completely overhaul the line at some point. Basically, they get this international investment company, mostly Middle East money, whose main thing was revamping Tiffany’s brand before they came onto Gucci to kind of take these struggling luxury brands completely rebrand them and make them iconic yet again. And with Gucci, they basically were like, We need fresh blood, we need a new designer. They looked everywhere. They tried to get all these European designers to come over and take over the creative direction of the House of Gucci. Nobody wanted to do it at the time. Did you was kind of a fledgling brand known as kind of a dinosaur for its archaic leather goods, you know, kind of just trundling along on mother’s buying itself a new wallet every few years. And Tom Ford gets hired kind of out of necessity because nobody else will do it. But it turns out to be married CEO’s greatest hire of all time because Tom Ford completely revamped the brand. There’s no way to overstate this. His first collection for Gucci was a fucking sensation, like he came out with sexual leathers, slinky velvets. Everything is sort of this cocaine sex like, you know, slick black surface mirrored coffee table Tom Ford Elegance. I don’t know how else to put it other than he just completely changed that line. And it was a sensation. And it is Maurizio is best decision, and it’s also a decision that leads to him being pushed out of the company because, you know, they’re losing money on Tom Ford’s vision because he wants to use the best fabrics he has, you know, persnickety finishings. He wants that all the clothes. I mean, again, I’m sort of giving you the inside baseball background of this. But you know, it ended up being kind of disastrous for the bottom line, amazing for the reputation of the company and what’s kind of tragic and what’s actually the Shakespearean tragedy here outside of the Macbeth and the killing and all the stuff that we can just get into in a second is that Maurizio made some really amazing business decisions that ended up being temporarily to. Disastrous, they got him pushed out of the company that lost his family control over Gucci because Gucci is no longer family controlled, and it ended up being the thing that ultimately turned that brand stratospherically popular in about 10 years and that is really the tragedy is that he turned Gucci around, but he didn’t really live to see that. I mean, if you consider a tragedy being like not getting to see some capitalist brand success, but I think, you know, the brand really did turn around and Tom Ford was a big part of that, and they gave him carte blanche. I mean, Tom Ford, while he was a Gucci, got to basically do whatever he wanted to do. And it was incredibly creative time and was the beginning of American designers going over and taking over European houses. He was kind of the first one and then it started to happen person after person, after person. And now we have all sorts of people going in and taking over Balenciaga and, you know, Dior and working on these really storied brands and trying to turn them around. But that really was the first instance of that. See, again,
S4: this needs to be in the movie. I mean, I’m assuming that all of that is in the book by Sarah J. Ford and that this was based on. And obviously, all of that can’t be told. But even just to make it clear that that was what Tom Ford represented for four Gucci and for Maurizio would have made him a real character and not, you know, a biopic box being checked off. So that that’s part of the story could be told. So, all right, we’re going to leave behind the business story now in its muddled mess that it is and get to what I consider the heart of the movie really. In a way, the end goes back to what the beginning was about, which is just this grand thwarted passion between these two individuals, right? So we have to get to the part of the movie where Maurizio cheat Syme Patrizia with this woman that we meet only briefly in the movie played by the wonderful French actress cum Yokota, again playing an Italian with a fake accent. We meet her only briefly at this ski lodge. If you’ve seen the trailer, you know, you know there’s some important intrigue that’s going to happen on the ski slopes. And sure enough, on the ski vacation, he meets up with this old friend and they reconnect in what turns into an affair and ends up breaking up the marriage again. This part to me is extremely opaque when it comes to what is Maurizio feeling or thinking or wanting, right? That just seems like a very standard. Here’s a blonde ski bunny total waste of Cameco down, and you know they go off and do their thing, but who were really focused on in this part of the movie, and I have to admit that I did enjoy this thread is the growing and toxic relationship between Patrizia and her sidekick, who starts out to be just her tarot reader and sort of babysitter, but then turns into her close friend and then eventually into her co-conspirator in this in this murder plot. So do either of you want to pick up on on Pina, the woman she she connects with and their relationship?
S5: So the other thing that’s really confusing just to sort of fill it in Dana is that the reason they’re at the ski chalet is Maurizio has to go there because it’s a tax shelter because he’s running away from the law. Another thing that’s kind of glossed over that happened to be a huge chapter of the Gucci story where he’s like on the lam. That’s why he gets on the motorcycle in the middle of the night. I didn’t get that at all. Yes, they’re in their Swiss chalet because he’s not going to be extradited to Italy. That went back
S1: to them forging the the document. Yes, I think yes,
S5: via the Italian police say it shows up at his apartment and he’s like, Oh, I got to get out of here. So he sort of sneaks out the back and goes to Switzerland, where if he can’t be brought back, he gets bought out the finances, get taken care of and he can come back. But while that’s getting taken care of there in this chalet at which again leads to one of the great camp lines of the whole movie, which I think people will be repeating forever, which is where Gorgui is threatening Camille Kottayam and she goes, You know, I don’t consider myself to be a perfectly ethical person, but I am fair now that but like, she’s sort of giving this sense of like, I’m going to end you to this woman who has eyes on her husband. And it starts this rapid descent where Gaga kind of returns to her roots per se, because we do get a sense that her trucking company was mafia adjacent in the very beginning. It’s what Jeremy Irons says to her he was mafia to Adam Driver about her family. She returns to her roots of sort of the underworld of Italian culture and ends up sort of conspiring with Pina, who’s this psychic played by Salma Hayek in what I think is kind of a great role for Salma Hayek to hire a hitman or two hitman, essentially to kill Maurizio because she’s been jilted. Not for a business reason. Literally just a pure ass. I’m a jealous of his new life with this new woman in this penthouse that was promised to me move a coldhearted Black Widow hired gun and kill my husband. And I think maybe one of you can talk to this, but I think the scene where she hires the hitman is one of the better scenes in the whole agree completely.
S4: I was about to mention it. That scene is extraordinary where they’re sitting outside in a kind of cafe, and she and Salma meet with these two, you know, obviously very shady thugs, right, who are going to do the deed for them. It’s a wonderful scene, and it’s one that again, where her acting and also her her bond with the Salma Hayek character really transcend the writing. And so even though in general, I would say the motivations in this movie are thinly sketched. I completely got it there. I got why that person would want to commit that act at that moment.
S5: And she’s styling herself at this point, like Danny Zuko from Grease.
S1: Do you know how she has that alter ego? Joe Calderon or something? Who’s a man? I felt like she looked like Joe Calderon.
S5: It’s funny. I know she’s she’s channeling a little bit of her Joe Calderon character, but I just love how she’s got this like slicked back hair leather jacket. And she turns to the two hitmen and she goes, Okay, who does what? And it’s this sense of like, she’s hiring these total lungs to do this job. It’s so similar to the Tonya Harding hit job because it’s like she hired like, Oh, that’s such
S1: a good point.
S5: Jeff Gillooly is friends who just couldn’t carry it out well, and it’s the same thing here. Like they all go down because she hired the dumbest like getaway car hitmen who were going to roll over like it just was not a well thought out plan. I mean, they called her home line afterwards to say it was done, which is one of the things that ended up indemnifying her in the end, which the movie doesn’t really get into. There’s a diary entry, and we see her write this word on the day marines he was killed, she writes like freedom or We’re
S1: so confused about that. She wrote Parody.
S5: So parody. So, so that really happens. Patrizia Reggiani diary has Paradiso in it the day he’s killed, which the police then used to be like, Oh, we think she had something to do with, you
S4: know, she just had a really good day, totally unrelated.
S5: It’s all like so clumsily done, which is how it was actually done in real life. It’s like retreats. I went to jail, but it is. It is so funny how it unfolds at the end and even comes your way than the clumsy way that the actual murder was carried out. I mean, you feel bad about it, but you also are like, what like this is happening in the last 15 minutes? The movie like Bang Bang Maurizio is dead end of the movie. It was verite to me. It was very rushed.
S4: If you didn’t know that she murdered him in real life, which I didn’t, it really was a huge shock. I thought it was maybe going to be an attempted murder or they were going to go scare him, or it was somehow going to fall through and be this cosmic disaster. I mean, it’s a really abrupt and ending, especially because there is no run up to the trial. There isn’t a moment where the police investigate or, you know, we sort of find out how we got to this courtroom, which is one of the last things you see on screen.
S5: Yeah, I mean, that’s why it needed to be a miniseries because there’s so many little moments. I mean, one of the things I knew about it going into it because I’m obsessed with this story is that Patrizia is like she. She doesn’t have any remorse really. Like, you know, she’s been interviewed since and been like, Yeah, I did what I did. Like, it’s been like she is such a character in her own right. And I think that it was this thing where you kind of root for her, for her root, for her. You’re kind of on Gaga’s side, the whole movie. And then suddenly there’s this turn into total psychopathy. There’s no better way to say it. And we’re like, OK. And I think that if you if it had been better transmitted, you would have seen all along the way that she was bonkers.
S4: I mean, just imagine a flash forward scene to prison where we would get to see Gaga play that line. You just described her saying, Yes, I did it, you know, 15 years later or something, and I’m not sorry. That would have been an amazing end.
S5: I mean, she has a real cell block tango energy, and I wish we’d gotten to see it. A Mary murderous is really how I would describe that character, and I think the thing is, this is such a saga that has so many parts to it. It’s like you have to do the creation of the line, the the death of the line Maurizio ascendency, the killing off of Maurizio, and somehow it was too much for this movie. And yet, at the same time, not enough. So I think that it’s an interesting failure of storytelling, but at the same time, a triumph of performances within that. And and so that’s why I keep being like, I’m very pro this movie because I think it’s just a rollicking, hilarious time to watch people perform. Whether or not the material is there, I don’t know. But I think I think that’s why I’m drawn to it, because no matter what, she is selling it. Yeah. Rachel, I
S4: think that’s a really good summary of this movie’s appeal and and lack of appeal. I mean, depending on how drawn you are to that kind of thing, to this word ungainly that keeps occurring to me, but things that are ungainly, that means that they’re uneven, right? They’re misshapen. But there are parts of them that are that are wonderful, and this movie’s intensity is something that I will always admire about it. And as I say, I do want to watch it again. Although I am not totally sure that as a critic, I can wholeheartedly send mass audiences to it because it’s not going to appeal to everyone. All right. Well, now I wish this was a miniseries that there was more for us to go on talking about because it’s juicy stuff. But thanks to both of you for coming in to spoil this movie with me. It was really fun.
S1: Thank you for having us. Thank you
S5: so much. And you know, everyone goes by original.
S4: All right, that will do it for this late spoiler special. Please subscribe to our slate for their special podcast feed. And if you like this show, please read it and review it in the Apple Podcast store or whoever you get your podcasts. And of course, if you have suggestions for movies or TV shows you would like us to spoil in future or other feedback to share. You can send it to spoilers at Slate.com. Our producer today was Cleo Levin for Heather Schwedel and Rachel Syme. I’m Dana Stevens. Thanks so much for listening, and we’ll talk to you soon.